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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(7), 577; doi:10.3390/rs8070577

Mapping Forest Cover and Forest Cover Change with Airborne S-Band Radar

1
Department of Geography, Centre for Landscape and Climate Research, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
2
National Centre for Earth Observation, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
3
Radar Group, School of Cranfield Defence And Security, Cranfield University, Shrivenham, Swindon SN6 8LA, UK
4
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
5
Airbus Defence and Space–Space Systems, Anchorage Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO3 5PU, UK
6
Satellite Applications Catapult, Electron Building Fermi Avenue Harwell, Oxford Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0QR, UK
7
Natural Environment Research Council Airborne Research & Survey Facility, Firfax Building, Meteor Business Park, Cheltenham Road East, Gloucester GL2 9QL, UK
8
Forestry Commission, Bristol and Savernake, Leigh Woods Office, Abbots Leigh Road, Bristol BS8 3QB, UK
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sangram Ganguly, Nicolas Baghdadi and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 11 April 2016 / Revised: 29 June 2016 / Accepted: 4 July 2016 / Published: 8 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Vegetation Structure and Dynamics)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3873 KB, uploaded 8 July 2016]   |  

Abstract

Assessments of forest cover, forest carbon stocks and carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation are increasingly important components of sustainable resource management, for combating biodiversity loss and in climate mitigation policies. Satellite remote sensing provides the only means for mapping global forest cover regularly. However, forest classification with optical data is limited by its insensitivity to three-dimensional canopy structure and cloud cover obscuring many forest regions. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors are increasingly being used to mitigate these problems, mainly in the L-, C- and X-band domains of the electromagnetic spectrum. S-band has not been systematically studied for this purpose. In anticipation of the British built NovaSAR-S satellite mission, this study evaluates the benefits of polarimetric S-band SAR for forest characterisation. The Michigan Microwave Canopy Scattering (MIMICS-I) radiative transfer model is utilised to understand the scattering mechanisms in forest canopies at S-band. The MIMICS-I model reveals strong S-band backscatter sensitivity to the forest canopy in comparison to soil characteristics across all polarisations and incidence angles. Airborne S-band SAR imagery over the temperate mixed forest of Savernake Forest in southern England is analysed for its information content. Based on the modelling results, S-band HH- and VV-polarisation radar backscatter and the Radar Forest Degradation Index (RFDI) are used in a forest/non-forest Maximum Likelihood classification at a spatial resolution of 6 m (70% overall accuracy, κ = 0.41) and 20 m (63% overall accuracy, κ = 0.27). The conclusion is that S-band SAR such as from NovaSAR-S is likely to be suitable for monitoring forest cover and its changes. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest/non-forest; forest cover change; S-band SAR; MIMICS-I model; Savernake forest forest/non-forest; forest cover change; S-band SAR; MIMICS-I model; Savernake forest
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ningthoujam, R.K.; Tansey, K.; Balzter, H.; Morrison, K.; Johnson, S.C.M.; Gerard, F.; George, C.; Burbidge, G.; Doody, S.; Veck, N.; Llewellyn, G.M.; Blythe, T. Mapping Forest Cover and Forest Cover Change with Airborne S-Band Radar. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 577.

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